CCU launches intelligence minor programby Brian Druckenmiller
Coastal Carolina University is offering a new minor in intelligence and national security for the upcoming Spring 2012 semester. Jonathan Smith, hired this fall as an associate professor and director of the minor program, has the credentials and experience to lead students in this growing field.
Established programs in intelligence and national security are few and far between across the country; however, in the post 9/11 era it is a field that is gaining popularity. “It’s a growing trend as an academic field,” said Smith. “There has been an increased need for intelligence in a variety of industries.”
The misconception seems to be that intelligence, as a field, is limited to military and top-secret government agencies; however, state and local law enforcement, healthcare, and other types of businesses and industries are looking for intelligence analysts to understand trends and to find potential areas for improvement.
According to Smith, the program (and the field) is focused on three teaching objectives: developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, communication skills, and cross-cultural understanding. It is one thing to be able to collect information, but learning these skills teaches students to know how to apply it—to make the data usable.
“Traditionally,” said Smith, “it takes four to six years to train an intelligence analyst new to the field. This program will speed the ramp-up time. The students will go into the field with a certain level of proficiency, improving their chances of becoming an analyst.”
So what makes Jonathan Smith the right man for the job?
A Florence native, Smith was an intelligence officer for 23 years in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He has been deployed overseas in support of U.S. operations in Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan and is experienced in targeting and counter-terrorism. He has trained hundreds of intelligence analysts during his career in the military.
Prior to CCU, Smith was a professor of political science for 14 years at Presbyterian College. He earned a doctorate in political science and a master's degree in international studies from the University of South Carolina.
CCU was developing this program before Smith’s arrival. While at Presbyterian, he saw the job posting online, and all signs pointed to a new career.
“This is the dream job,” said Smith. “Directing this program marries the two streams of my professional life – teaching and intelligence. I have the opportunity to build something from scratch—how could I turn this down?”
While the minor should be available by February 2012, the goal is to install a major in intelligence and national security over the summer, making it available for Fall 2012.
Smith will not be the lone expert in the field of intelligence. “It’s not just me here,” said Smith. “I’ve have a lot of assistance. We have a pretty deep bench.” Ken Rogers, chair of the Department of Politics and Geography, is a retired intelligence analyst, and Cindy Storer, lecturer, was formerly employed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
“I recognize the importance of having well prepared intelligence analysts to protect our country’s national security,” said Rogers. “The new minor will provide relevant background for students who deserve a better understanding of the intelligence process; the anticipated new B.A. will provide students with the necessary background to be successful in a career in intelligence.”
Smith has listed himself “inactive” in the Naval Reserves so he can focus on seeing this program come to fruition. “Coastal is an exciting place to be,” said Smith. “The students are excited, and the institution, at all levels, has been beyond helpful. I could not ask for more.”